The food industry has to undertake numerous procedures to ensure food safety and one important aspect is food labelling. Besides food safety food labels also have an effect on the purchasing decisions of the consumers.Therefore, when designing food labels, manufacturers must follow their own requirements as well as the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011 formulated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).FSSAI is an autonomous body that regulates food safety and compliance of food regulations in India.
Nature of information
The information on food labels of packaged food products and beverages is provided by food manufacturers. All food labels need to provide detailed information on the nature and characteristics of the food product without misleading the consumers. All information displayed on the labels needs to be accurate or else it can cause a breach in food safety. Since the information on food labels is meant to educate the consumers so food manufacturers provide information about their products besides the mandatory information required by the regulations.
The FSSAIregulations lay down the standards for the format, font, height of the words and numerals printed on the labels so the information is displayed with clarity. Some consumers have health problems, specific nutritional requirement or allergies, so food labels play a significant role in providing food safety, as consumers can have access to all relevant information before purchasing the product.
According to the FSSAI, the mandatory information must include
- Name of the food
- List of ingredients in the final product
- Nutritional Information which includes calories from fats, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, sugars, protein, vitamins and minerals and iron.
- Declaration of vegetarian or non-vegetarian along with relevant logo
- Declaration regarding food additives
- Name and address of the manufacturer or the products could be seen as fake
- Net quantity
- Code No/Lot No/Batch No. is important for information for food recall and traceability, which is another food safety tool.
- Date of manufacture and Best Before, Use By Date and Expiry Date, indicate the shelf life of the product and by when the food must be consumed so both the quality and the safety of the food is assured before consumption.
- Country of origin for imported food is necessary to know where the food has been grown, produced, manufactured or processed.
- Instructions for use, serves as a guide so consumers know how to utilise the product.
With the spread of awareness, consumers have begun to study food labels before making a decision to purchase as they want to evaluate the suitability of the food for their needs, for religious reasons, to avoid diseases and allergens related to food. All of these parameters ensure food safety but consumers also check labels to see if it suits their lifestyle and because of brand loyalty. Consumers also check food labels because of their concerns about food safety and environmental issues and their preference for foods with certain nutritional aspects.